Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS5709233 A
Publication typeGrant
Application numberUS 08/354,597
Publication dateJan 20, 1998
Filing dateDec 13, 1994
Priority dateDec 23, 1993
Fee statusLapsed
Also published asEP0661025A2, EP0661025A3, EP0661025B1, EP0661025B2, US5927300
Publication number08354597, 354597, US 5709233 A, US 5709233A, US-A-5709233, US5709233 A, US5709233A
InventorsBernhard Boland, Werner Haczek
Original AssigneeBraun Aktiengesellschaft
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Dental cleansing implement
US 5709233 A
Abstract
A dental cleansing implement having a thin, elongate shaft. The shaft includes a free end portion suitable in particular for insertion in the interproximal spaces and connected with a mounting portion or the like. The mounting portion is adapted to be coupled to an electric motor drive means of a handle member, and the cleansing implement is adapted to be rotated or oscillated about a shaft longitudinal center line. The free end portion of the shaft is made of a flexible material bent in the shape of a crescent, approximately.
Images(3)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(27)
We claim:
1. A dental cleansing implement for coupling to a handle member with an electric motor drive means, the cleansing implement comprising an elongate member that includes a thin, elongate shaft having a free end portion structured for complete insertion in the interproximal spaces and a mounting portion connected with the shaft, the mounting portion including structure adapted to be coupled to the electric motor drive means, the elongate member being adapted to be at least one of rotated or oscillated by the electric motor drive means about a shaft longitudinal center line, the free end portion of the shaft being made of a flexible and resilient material, and the free end portion including a bent portion in the shape of a crescent, approximately, wherein during use the bent portion is inserted in the interproximal spaces and at least one of rotated or oscillated by the electric motor drive means, and wherein said material is sufficiently flexible for the bent portion to conform automatically to respective dimensions of individual interproximal spaces of the interproximal spaces during rotation of the bent portion.
2. A cleansing implement as claimed in claim 1, wherein a substantially straight leading portion adjoins the bent portion of the free end portion distal to the mounting portion.
3. The cleansing implement of claim 2, wherein the straight leading portion is substantially parallel to the shaft longitudinal center line.
4. A cleansing implement as claimed in claim 1, wherein the free end portion includes a second bent portion, which is adjacent to the first-mentioned bent portion and forms an eyelet with the first-mentioned bent portion.
5. A cleansing implement as claimed in claim 4, wherein the eyelet has an inside width of about 1 mm.
6. A cleansing implement as claimed in claim 1, wherein the shaft includes an intermediate portion having at least one spherical enlargement arranged between the free end portion and the mounting portion, and wherein the enlargement has a bearing surface which reduces sliding friction when the intermediate portion is within a guide sleeve.
7. A cleansing implement as claimed claim 1, wherein the free end portion includes at least one blade-shape cleansing edge extending substantially parallel to the shaft longitudinal center line.
8. A cleansing implement as claimed claim 1, wherein the free end portion has a length of about 5 mm, a thickness of about 0.3 mm, and a bent portion of about 0.5 mm.
9. A cleansing implement as claimed in claim 1, further including a receiving sleeve encompassing the elongate member.
10. A cleansing implement as claimed in claim 9, wherein the elongate member is slidably carried in the receiving sleeve and is movable from a storage position, in which the elongate member is substantially totally encompassed by the receiving sleeve, into an operating position in which the free end portion protrudes from the receiving sleeve.
11. A cleansing implement as claimed in claim 10, further comprising detent means structured to locate the receiving sleeve in a transit position and wherein the elongate member is movable from the transit portion into the storage position and into the operating position by coupling engagement with the drive means of the handle member.
12. A cleansing implement as claimed in claim 9, wherein the elongate member includes an intermediate portion arranged between the free end portion and the mounting portion, and the receiving sleeve includes a hollow cylindrical coupling portion having structure for coupling to a housing portion of the handle member, and an adjoining guide sleeve in which the intermediate portion is guided.
13. A cleansing implement as claimed in claim 12, wherein the intermediate portion includes at least one spherical enlargement positioned within the guide sleeve and having a diameter slightly less than the inside diameter of the guide sleeve.
14. A cleansing implement as claimed in claim 12, wherein the guide sleeve includes a substantially arc-shaped bent portion, and that the arc-shaped bent portion covers an angular range of between 30 degrees and 150 degrees.
15. A cleansing implement as claimed in claim 14, wherein the circular arc covers an angular range of 90 degrees ±20 degrees.
16. A cleansing implement as claimed in claim 12, wherein the end portion is guided in the guide sleeve.
17. A cleansing implement as claimed in claim 9, wherein the elongate member together with the receiving sleeve are structured to be removably mounted to the handle member as a unit.
18. A cleansing implement as claimed in claim 1, wherein a ratio of the length of the bent portion to the length of the free end portion is about 1 to 2.
19. A cleansing implement as claimed in claim 1, wherein the free end portion is made of a plastic material containing polyester.
20. A cleansing implement as claimed in claim 19, wherein the plastic material contains hytre.
21. A cleansing implement as claimed in claim 1, wherein the elongate member is adapted to perform a reciprocating motion in the direction of the shaft longitudinal center line when actuated by the electric motor drive means.
22. A dental cleansing instrument, comprising:
a handle member including a housing and an electric motor drive means; and
a receiving sleeve including a proximal end structured for removably coupling to an end of the housing, and a distal end having an opening; and
an elongate member substantially encompassed by the receiving sleeve, including a mounting portion structured for removably coupling with the electric motor drive means, and an elongate shaft having a free end portion projecting out through the opening of the distal end of the receiving sleeve, wherein the free end portion is structured for complete insertion in the interproximal spaces and wherein during use, the free end portion is at least one of rotated and oscillated by the electric motor drive means about a shaft longitudinal center line, the free end portion being made of a flexible material, and the free end portion including a bent portion approximately in the shape of a crescent.
23. The cleansing instrument of claim 22, wherein during use the bent portion is inserted in the interproximal spaces and at least one of rotated or oscillated by the electric motor drive means, and wherein the material is sufficiently flexible for the bent portion to conform automatically to respective dimensions of individual interproximal spaces of the interproximal spaces during rotation of the bent portion.
24. The cleansing instrument of claim 22, wherein during use the electric motor drive means superimposes on the free end portion a reciprocating motion acting along the direction of the shaft longitudinal center line.
25. A dental cleansing instrument as claimed in claim 22, wherein the electric motor drive means includes a drive shaft slidably mounted in the longitudinal direction of the handle member, with the drive shaft being adapted to be connected with the mounting portion in a non-rotating relationship.
26. A dental cleansing instrument as claimed in claim 25, wherein the drive shaft is coupled to a switch to energize and deenergize the electric motor drive means to an On-condition and an Off-condition, respectively, and is movable into an advanced position in the On-condition.
27. A dental cleansing instrument as claimed in claim 26, wherein the drive shaft is acted upon by restoring means which, in the absence of actuation of the switch, automatically return the motor drive means to the Off-condition and/or cause the drive shaft to occupy a retracted position.
Description

This invention relates to a dental cleansing implement having a thin, elongate shaft comprising a free end portion suitable in particular for insertion in the interproximal spaces and connected with a mounting portion.

Such a dental cleansing device is known from prior European Patent No. EP 0 354 352 A1. The cleansing implement disclosed therein includes a thin stem provided with an abrasive coating for the removal of plaque. The stem is adapted to be located on a handle by means of a mounting structure. This prior known cleansing implement presents the problem that an effective cleaning action of the interproximal spaces can be accomplished only if the dimensions of the spaces correspond approximately to the diameter of the cleansing implement. Further, the manipulation of this hand-held and hand-operated cleansing implement is difficult and awkward with regard to its penetration between the user's teeth and also with regard to the need for the user's hand to set the cleansing implement in motion.

It is an object of the present invention to provide a cleansing implement by means of which an effective cleaning action of particularly the interproximal spaces as well as ease of manipulation are ensured.

According to the present invention, this object is essentially accomplished in that the mounting portion or the like is adapted to be coupled to an electric motor drive means of a handle member, that the cleansing implement is adapted to be rotated or oscillated about a shaft longitudinal center line, and that the free end portion of the shaft is made of a flexible material bent in the shape of a crescent, approximately.

The cleansing implement of the present invention affords the advantage of an effective dental cleaning operation and ease of manipulation. Because the cleansing implement is adapted to be coupled to an electric motor drive means and to be rotated or oscillated about a shaft longitudinal center line, it is ensured that the cleansing implement engages readily between the user's teeth, with the motor-induced motion of the cleansing implement ensuring an effective dental cleaning operation free from difficulty and fatigue. Because the free end portion of the shaft is made of a flexible material bent in the shape of a crescent, approximately, the cleansing implement conforms automatically to the individual dimensions of the interproximal spaces. When rotation or oscillation about the shaft longitudinal center line is imparted to the cleansing implement, the approximately crescent-shaped bent portion describes an outer circumferential surface of approximately barrel shape, with the diameter of this circumferential surface conforming automatically to the respective dimensions of the individual interproximal spaces owing to the flexibility of the shaft end portion. At all events, the cleansing implement of the present invention allows effective cleaning of interproximal spaces of various dimensions, because the free end portion makes contact with the tooth sides in the area of the approximately crescent-shaped bent portion also where interproximal spaces of different dimensions are involved.

Advantageously, at the head end a substantially straight leading portion adjoins the bent portion of the end portion, its shaft longitudinal center line being substantially identical with the axis of rotation. This facilitates the insertion of the cleansing implement into the interproximal spaces significantly.

Advantageously, the ratio of the length of the bent portion to the length of the end portion is about 1 to 2. With these dimensions a favorable compromise is accomplished between an optimum insertion of the cleansing implement and an effective dental cleansing operation.

In a further advantageous embodiment, the free end portion includes two adjacent bent portions providing an eyelet. By means of such a flexible cleansing eyelet the cleansing implement is in a position to conform automatically to different dimensions of interproximal spaces, with a balancing of masses being achieved by the converging arrangement of two adjacent bent portions so that, on the one hand, the cleansing implement is not appreciably deflected on account of unbalanced conditions, not even when exposed to high frequencies of rotation or oscillation. On the other hand, the use of two bent portions improves the cleaning action of the cleansing implement in individual cases. By virtue of the flexibility of the end portion, also the cleansing eyelet conforms automatically to the various dimensions of interproximal spaces. Both in this embodiment and in the embodiments referred to in the foregoing, it will be understood, of course, that also the tooth outer and inner surfaces can be cleaned, using, for example, a tangential motion of the cleansing implement relative to these surfaces.

Advantageously, the free end portion is made of a plastics material containing polyester, in particular, hytrel. Plastics materials of this type are characterized by a high fatigue strength under reversed bending stresses, whereby a high and constant resilience of the bent portion or eyelet is obtained. Further, bending of the complete cleansing shaft and a rotary or oscillatory drive of the cleansing shaft about the shaft longitudinal center line is also possible when these materials are selected.

Advantageously, an intermediate portion having one or several spherical enlargements is arranged between the end portion and the mounting portion. These spherical enlargements in the intermediate portion increase the torsional strength of the shaft of the cleansing implement, resulting in a prolonged life of the cleansing implement.

In an embodiment of the present invention, the free end portion includes at least one blade-shaped cleansing edge extending substantially parallel to the shaft longitudinal center line. This cleansing edge further aids in loosening in particular stubborn dental deposits as, for example, plaque.

An advantageous embodiment of the cleansing implement resides in that the free end portion has a length of about 5 mm, a thickness of about 0.3 mm, and a bent portion of about 0.5 mm or an eyelet with an inside width of about 1 mm.

In a particularly advantageous, independent embodiment of the present invention, the cleansing implement is encompassed by a receiving sleeve. This protects the cleansing implement from contamination and damage during periods of non-use, making it readily suitable for traveling use, for example.

Because the cleansing implement is slidably carried in the receiving sleeve and is movable from a storage position, in which the cleansing implement is substantially totally encompassed by the receiving sleeve, into an operating position in which the free end portion protrudes from the receiving sleeve, good manipulation of the cleansing implement is ensured. Being received in the sleeve, the cleansing implement is protected when not in use, and it can be simply pushed out of the receiving sleeve for use and also for engagement within the interproximal spaces.

Advantageously, the receiving sleeve includes a hollow cylindrical coupling portion having an adjoining guide sleeve in which the intermediate portion and, depending on the position of the cleansing implement, also the end portion of the cleansing implement are guided. By means of the guide sleeve, it is easy for the user to probe the interproximal spaces and, following its proper positioning, slide the cleansing implement out of the receiving sleeve for use, thus enabling it to enter the interproximal spaces with its free end portion to perform the desired cleaning function.

It is particularly advantageous that the inside diameter of the guide sleeve for the cleansing implement is only slightly greater than the diameter of the spherical enlargements of the intermediate portion. The spherical enlargements which are advantageously spaced uniformly apart along the length of the shaft act as bearings in the guide sleeve, thereby reducing sliding friction because only line contact exists between the spherical enlargements and the inner wall of the guide sleeve. As a result, torsional stresses in the shaft of the cleansing implement are materially reduced in use, thus prolonging the service life of the cleansing implement made of a plastics material of high fatigue strength under reversed bending stresses.

In an embodiment of the present invention, the guide sleeve includes a substantially circular-arc-shaped bent portion, with the circular arc covering an angular range of between 30 degrees and 150 degrees, preferably 90 degrees ±20 degrees. By this means, use of the dental cleansing device is facilitated, in particular for probing the interproximal spaces, for introducing the free end portion, and also for the subsequent cleaning action.

In a further embodiment of the present invention, the cleansing implement, together with the receiving sleeve, is suitable for use as a replacement part substituting a worn part. For replacement, the receiving sleeve together with the cleansing implement completely received therein is simply detached from the handle, and a new cleansing implement with receiving sleeve is substituted. Because the cleansing implement is completely received within the receiving sleeve, user contact with the potentially dirty cleansing implement is prevented from occurring during the replacement procedure.

In a particularly advantageous independent embodiment of the present invention, the cleansing implement is located in the receiving sleeve in a transit position by detent means, being movable from the transit position into the storage position or, where applicable, the operating position by coupling engagement with the drive means of the handle member. Because the cleansing implement is adapted to be releasably located within the receiving sleeve in a transit position in which the cleansing implement is totally encompassed by the receiving sleeve, damage to the cleansing implement prior to its first use is prevented. The replacement part thus allows the use of economical packaging means.

Advantageously, the cleansing implement is adapted to be coupled to an electric motor drive means of a handle member, with the drive shaft of the handle member being adapted to be connected with the cleansing implement in a non-rotating relationship and being slidably mounted in the longitudinal direction of the handle member. This thus enables the cleansing implement to be moved from the rest position into the operating position simply by displacing the drive shaft in the longitudinal direction of the handle member.

Because the drive shaft is coupled to a switch to energize and deenergize the electric motor drive means and is movable into an advanced position in the On-condition, a displacement of the switch results, on the one hand, in an energization of the electric motor drive means and, on the other hand, in a concomitant automatic movement of the cleansing implement from the position of rest into the operating position. This has the advantage of enabling the user to introduce the cleansing implement into the interproximal spaces with ease, this operation being supported still further by the rotary or oscillatory motion of the cleansing implement. For deenergization, the switch is returned to the Off-position, causing the electric motor drive means to be turned off while at the same time the cleansing implement is retracted within the receiving sleeve.

In an advantageous further development of the present invention, the drive shaft is acted upon by restoring means which, in the absence of switch actuation, automatically return the drive means to the Off-condition and/or cause the drive shaft to occupy the retracted position. It is thereby ensured that the dental cleansing device is automatically returned to the Off-condition when the user releases the switch. The spring then acts promptly to deactivate the electric motor drive means, urging at the same time the cleansing implement back into the receiving sleeve. This protects the user largely from the possibility of injury that may result from an improper handling of the cleansing device. It is also ensured that the cleansing implement is outside the receiving sleeve only during the cleansing operation proper, being at all other times positioned inside the receiving sleeve in a protected manner due to the action of the restoring means.

Further features, advantages and application possibilities of the present invention will become apparent from the subsequent description of embodiments illustrated in more detail in the accompanying drawings. It will be understood that any feature described and/or represented by illustration, whether taken alone or in any desired combination, constitutes the subject-matter of the present invention, irrespective of their summarization in the claims and their back-references.

In the drawings,

FIG. 1 is a schematic side view, partly in section, of an embodiment of a dental cleansing device incorporating the cleansing implement constructed in accordance with the present invention;

FIGS. 2 and 3 are views of two embodiments of the cleansing implement of the present invention;

FIGS. 4 and 5 are schematic views of a further embodiment of the cleansing implement of the present invention with the receiving sleeve, showing the cleansing implement in the transit and operating position, respectively;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view, on an enlarged scale, of the shaft of the cleansing implement according to the embodiment of FIG. 2; and

FIGS. 7 and 8 are sectional views of the cleansing shaft of FIG. 6, taken on the planes VII and VIII, respectively.

FIG. 1 shows a dental cleansing device 1 comprising a handle member 2 and an attachment 3. The handle member 2 is of an elongate configuration with a substantially circular cross-section. An intermediate portion 4 of the handle member 2 provided close to the attachment 3 is of a diameter smaller than that of a hand-held portion 5 provided remote from the attachment 3. The attachment 3 is equally of an essentially elongate configuration and has a substantially circular cross-section. The diameter of a coupling portion 137 of the attachment 3 at the end close to the handle member 2 corresponds to the diameter of the intermediate portion 4 of the handle member 2. At the end remote from the handle member 2, the attachment 3 is provided with a guide sleeve 7 of a reduced diameter which includes a bent portion 8. Accommodated in the hand-held portion 5 of the handle member 2, in particular fixedly located therein, is an electrically powered motor 9 connected to a source of power 12, for example, an accumulator, via electric conductors 10, 11. A longitudinally slidable switch 13 is arranged in the hand-held portion 5. Provided on the switch 13 is an electrically conductive contact means 14 which is connected to the power source 12 via the electric conductor 11. Further arranged on the switch 13 is a coupling member 15 serving to couple the switch 13 to a drive shaft 16.

The drive shaft 16 extends through the entire intermediate portion 4 into the hand-held portion 5 and has at its free end close to the motor 9 in the area of the handle member 2 a cup-shaped receptacle 17 with an opening 18. The motor 9, the drive shaft 16 and the cup-shaped receptacle 17 are concentrically arranged with a common axis 19, with the opening 18 of the cup-shaped receptacle 17 being provided at the end close to the motor 9. Projecting radially outwardly from the outside of the cup-shaped receptacle 17 are two relatively spaced annular collars 20, 21 defining an annular groove 22 therebetween for engagement by an annular collar 23 of the coupling member 15 projecting inwardly therefrom. As a result, a displacement of the switch 13 in the longitudinal direction, in addition to having the effect of turning the device on and off, also produces a displacement of the cup-shaped receptacle 17 together with the drive shaft 16 in the longitudinal direction of the axis 19. While the annular collar 23 is fixed in place in the circumferential direction, the cup-shaped receptacle 17 with its annular groove 22 is rotatable relative to the annular collar 23. The cup-shaped receptacle 17 is thus capable of rotating about the axis 19 irrespective of the position of the switch 13. It will be understood that the added provision of a bearing or the like, not shown, may be envisaged in the area of the annular collar 23 and the associated annular groove 22 to reduce friction.

At the end of the cup-shaped receptacle 17 close to the opening 18, a motor shaft 24 extends from the motor 9, which shaft is arranged concentrically with the axis 19 as is the motor 9. The motor shaft 24 is provided with at least one, preferably however, several vanes 25 projecting radially outwardly. The cup-shaped receptacle 17 has in its interior a corresponding number of longitudinal ribs 26 projecting radially inwardly. The vanes 25 extend through the opening 18 into the interior of the cup-shaped receptacle 17, engaging in the space between the longitudinal ribs 26. In this arrangement, the vanes 25 and the longitudinal ribs 26 overlap along an axial length which is greater than the maximum possible length of displacement of the switch 13 in the longitudinal direction.

Therefore, a rotary or oscillatory motion of the motor shaft 24 is transmitted through the vanes 25 and the longitudinal ribs 26 to the cup-shaped receptacle 17 and to the drive shaft 16. Owing to the overlapping arrangement of the vanes 25 and the longitudinal ribs 26 in the longitudinal direction, the cup-shaped receptacle 17 is displaceable by means of the switch 13, without the driving relationship between the motor shaft 24 and the drive shaft 16 being interrupted. It will be understood that this coupling structure may also be configured in a different manner, using, for example, a suitable gearing or the like. Seated between the side of the annular collar 20 facing the intermediate portion 4 of the handle member 2 and the transition area between the hand-held portion 5 and the intermediate portion 4 is a spring 27 which is located in position by means of support walls 28, 29. The spring 27 produces a force acting in opposition to a displacement of the switch 13 towards the attachment 3. As a result, the spring invariably urges the switch 13 and thus the drive shaft 16 automatically into a direction away from the attachment 3, into a storage position 40, without any force acting from outside.

At the end of the handle member 2 close to the attachment, the drive shaft 16 is guided by an annular collar 30 projecting inwardly from the handle member 2. The drive shaft 16 projects from the intermediate portion 4 by a small amount, its free end being provided with a bore 31 extending substantially concentrically with the axis 19.

In the attachment 3 fitted to the handle member 2, a cleansing implement 101 is longitudinally slidably received. The cleansing implement 101 includes a cleansing shaft 102 of an elongate and thin configuration. Preferably, the cleansing shaft 102 is about 30 mm long and has a diameter in the range from 0.3 mm to 0.5 mm, approximately. The cleansing shaft 102 is made of a plastics material, in particular a polyester elastomer as, for example, hytrel. The cleansing shaft 102 is flexible, enabling it to be bent by an angle of up to 150 degrees and more, also as it rotates about its longitudinal axis.

At its end close to the drive shaft 16, the cleansing implement 101 includes a circular base 128 connected to the cleansing shaft 102. A pin 129 is connected to the base 128. The pin 129 is received in the bore 31 of the drive shaft 16. The pin 129 and the bore 31 may be press-fitted together or, alternatively, their cross-sectional shapes may be conformed to each other, for example, in the form of a polygon or the like. The pin 129 is inserted in the bore 31 in a non-rotating relationship thereto, with the cleansing shaft 102 extending from the base 128 to the guide sleeve 7 and being passed therethrough.

Because of the bent portion 8 of the guide sleeve 7, the cleansing shaft 102 received in the guide sleeve 7 is equally provided with a correspondingly bent portion 36. This portion may be bent at angles of up to 150 degrees and more, preferably an angle of 90 degrees ±20 degrees is provided. The free end of the guide sleeve 7 includes an essentially hemispherical rounded portion 37 having a diameter in the range from 1 mm to 4 mm, approximately, in particular 2.5 mm. The dental cleansing device 1 shown is adapted to be set to an Off-condition in which the cleansing implement 101 is in a storage position 40, and to an On-condition in which the cleansing implement 101 is in an operating position 41. FIG. 1 shows both positions 40, 41 jointly in solid and, respectively, broken lines. The drive shaft 16 and the other parts of the dental cleansing device are, however, all shown in the storage position 40.

FIGS. 4 and 5 show, on an enlarged scale, the cleansing implement 101 and the associated receiving sleeve 136 in a further embodiment of the present invention. In FIG. 5, the broken lines illustrate the cleansing implement 101 in its storage position 40, while the lines drawn in full illustrate the operating position 41 thereof. In the storage position 40, the cleansing implement 101 and in particular the cleansing shaft 102 are fully received in the interior of the receiving sleeve 136 or the attachment 3. The base 128 and the pin 129 are in the immediate proximity of the end of the handle member 2 close to the attachment 3. In contrast thereto, when in the operating position 41, the cleansing implement 101 is not fully received inside the receiving sleeve 136. The end portion 105 of the cleansing shaft 102 projects from the free end of the guide sleeve 7. Preferably, the end portion 105 has a length of 10 mm to 15 mm, approximately, in particular 12 mm.

When the switch 13 is in its Off-position, the contact means 14 does not make contact with the mating contact means of the motor 9. Under these conditions, the motor shaft 24 and thus the drive shaft 16 and the cleansing implement 101 do not rotate or oscillate. By virtue of the force exerted by the spring 27, also the drive shaft 16 is in the retracted position illustrated in FIG. 1. This also causes the cleansing implement 101 to be in its storage position 40 in which it is totally encompassed by the attachment 3. When a user then shifts the switch 13 in the longitudinal direction towards the attachment 3, the contact means 14 will energize the motor 9, and the motor shaft 24 will be caused to rotate or oscillate about the axis 19. By means of the vanes 25 and the longitudinal ribs 26, this rotary motion will be transmitted to the drive shaft 16 as well as to the cleansing implement 101 coupled thereto. Rotation or oscillation about its longitudinal center line is thereby imparted to the cleansing shaft 102 provided with the bent portion 36. Simultaneously with the displacement of the switch 13 to the On-position, the drive shaft 16 will be displaced outwardly in the direction of the axis 19 through the annular collar 23 and the annular groove 22. This motion will be transmitted to the cleansing implement 101 coupled to the drive shaft 16, causing it to be moved into the operating position 41 when the cleansing device 1 is turned on. The cleansing implement then extends with its end portion 105 out of the guide sleeve 7, ready for cleaning the tooth surfaces. Advantageously, with the dental cleansing device still in the Off-position, the guide sleeve 7 is first positioned against the interproximal spaces to be cleaned before moving the switch 13 to the On-position. This facilitates the insertion action of the end portion 105 of the cleansing implement 101 significantly. When the user releases the switch 13, the spring 27 will return the switch 13 to the Off-position. This also causes the cleansing implement 101 to return to its storage position 40 automatically. The contact means 14 is disengaged from the motor 9, so that the motor is off.

FIG. 4 shows the attachment 3 or the receiving sleeve 136 together with the cleansing implement 101 in a transit position 43. For this purpose, the receiving sleeve 136 has about centrally in the coupling portion 137 an inwardly projecting annular collar 38. The base 128 of the cleansing implement 101 is provided with an annular groove 39 adapted to register with the annular collar 38. In the transit position 43 shown, the annular collar 38 is in locking engagement with the annular groove 39, causing the cleansing implement 101 to be detachably located within the receiving sleeve 136. In this transit position 43, the attachment 3 or the receiving sleeve 136 are commercially available as a replacement part, being encased, for example, in a blister packing, and can be purchased by the customer to replace worn cleansing implements 101. The cleansing implement 101 is thus received in the attachment 3 in a safe and protected manner. When the attachment 3, with the cleansing implement 101 in locking engagement therewith, is fitted to the handle member 2, the pin 129 will be inserted into the bore 31. Shortly before the attachment 3 is completely push-fitted to the handle member 2, the annular collar 38 will urged out of its engagement with the annular groove 39, so that the cleansing implement 101, rather than being held captive inside the attachment 3, is then arranged therein in a slidable relationship.

FIG. 2 shows a first embodiment of a cleansing implement 101 in which the cleansing shaft 102 is held on a mounting portion 6. Adjoining the mounting portion 6, the cleansing shaft 102 includes an intermediate portion 133 having several, in particular equidistantly spaced, enlargements 134. The intermediate portion 133 has an adjacent end portion 105. This end portion 105 possesses two adjacent bent portions 130, 132 defining an eyelet 106. The bent portions 130, 132 continue in a leading portion 131. With the exception of the bent portions 130, 132, the cleansing implement 101 is configured so as to be substantially symmetrical about a shaft longitudinal center line 135. The cleansing implement 101 is made of a flexible plastics material, for example, hytrel, which is capable of withstanding high bending stresses with repeated stress reversals without showing any signs of fatigue.

In contrast thereto, FIG. 3 shows a cleansing implement 101 having solely one single bent portion 130 practically defining "half" an eyelet 106. An oscillating or rotating motion of the cleansing implement 101 about its shaft longitudinal center line 135 dynamically complements, so to speak, the eyelet of the embodiment of FIG. 2. The cleansing implement 101 of the embodiment of FIG. 3 has the advantage of affording greater ease of manufacture. This will become apparent particularly when considering that the thickness of the cleansing implement 101 is of the order of about 0.3 mm in the area of the free end portion, with the bent portion 130, 132 having a value of about 0.5 mm±0.2 mm.

In FIG. 6, the end portion 105 of a cleansing implement 101 of FIG. 2 is illustrated on an enlarged scale. Two cleansing edges 112, 113 extend along the full length of the eyelet 106 and in particular along the leading portion 131. According to FIGS. 7 and 8, the cleansing edges 112, 113 are formed by notches 114, so that blade-shaped ridges 115 are obtained. The notches 114 are arranged such that the ridges 115 point to the same direction of rotation. While the bent portions 130, 132 are of a substantially triangular profile, the leading portion 131 has an approximately square profile.

As becomes apparent particularly from FIG. 5, the spherical enlargements 134 on the intermediate portion 133 of the cleansing implement 101 serve a bearing function to reduce the sliding friction in the guide sleeve 7, because only line contact occurs between the cleansing implement 101 and the guide sleeve 7.

Still further, it is advantageous to superimpose a reciprocating motion acting in the direction of the shaft longitudinal center line 135 upon the rotary or oscillatory motion of the cleansing implement 101, whereby the cleaning effect is further augmented and, where applicable, the insertion of the cleansing implement 101 into the interproximal spaces is facilitated.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US1355037 *Jan 23, 1920Oct 5, 1920Edmond DziukToothpick
US2016597 *Aug 28, 1933Oct 8, 1935Drake Marion LTooth cleaning and gum stimulating device
US3588936 *May 13, 1969Jun 29, 1971John P DuveElectric toothbrush
US4326548 *Jun 9, 1980Apr 27, 1982Wagner Eugene CPersonal oral hygiene tool
US4505678 *Nov 21, 1983Mar 19, 1985Andersson A E BrorTartar removal instrument
US4576190 *Dec 21, 1982Mar 18, 1986Youssef Kamal AToothsticks "Toostix"
US4577649 *May 1, 1980Mar 25, 1986Marat ShimenkovToothpick
US4617718 *Aug 7, 1984Oct 21, 1986Dentalvarutjanst AbMethod in the manufacture of tartar removing dental instruments
US5123841 *Apr 2, 1990Jun 23, 1992Millner Don EInterproximal dental plaque remover
US5169313 *Apr 28, 1992Dec 8, 1992Kline Joseph MDental scales and curettes having improved cutting blade and shank configurations
US5393229 *Jun 14, 1993Feb 28, 1995Ram; ZeevDental cleaning implement including toothpick, and method of cleaning teeth therewith
US5419346 *Apr 7, 1994May 30, 1995Tipp; Raymond P.Interdental toothpick and stimulator tool
US5573020 *Jul 16, 1993Nov 12, 1996Robinson; Dane Q.Dental flossing device and method therefor
*DE243224C Title not available
DE1766651A1 *Jun 28, 1968Aug 19, 1971Axelsson Per Axel TorbjoernVorrichtung zum Reinigen und Polieren der Zaehne
DE4223196A1 *Jul 15, 1992Jan 20, 1994Braun AgBürstenhalter für eine Zahnbürste
DE4226659A1 *Aug 12, 1992Feb 17, 1994Braun AgElectric toothbrush cleaning tool - has thin, flexible shaft of e.g. polyester elastomer for easy insertion into spaces between teeth
EP0354352A1 *Jul 7, 1989Feb 14, 1990Georg Karl Geka-Brush GmbhDevice for cleaning interdental spacings
FR429447A * Title not available
Non-Patent Citations
Reference
1 *A copy of European Search Report dated Jul. 28, 1995.
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US5931170 *Oct 8, 1998Aug 3, 1999Addway Engineering LimitedDental flosser
US5944033 *Apr 27, 1998Aug 31, 1999Robinson; Dane Q.Dental flossing device and method therefor
US6047711 *Feb 19, 1999Apr 11, 2000Wagner; Daniel A.Method and apparatus for converting a power-driven toothbrush into a power-driven flossing device
US6363565Sep 8, 2000Apr 2, 2002Braun GmbhBrush arrangement and toothbrush with brush arrangement
US6422867Dec 20, 2000Jul 23, 2002Water Pik, Inc.Interproximal flosser handle
US6447293Aug 10, 2000Sep 10, 2002Water Pik, Inc.Drive mechanism for interproximal flossing device
US6517348Aug 4, 2000Feb 11, 2003Zeev RamDental oscillating cleaning implement and method of using same
US6574820Oct 22, 1999Jun 10, 2003The Gillette CompanyBrush head for toothbrush
US6609910Dec 20, 2000Aug 26, 2003Water Pik, Inc.Tip for dental flossing device
US6760946 *Jun 6, 2003Jul 13, 2004The Gillette CompanyBrush head for toothbrush
US6799346Jan 4, 2002Oct 5, 2004Atico International Usa, Inc.Toothbrush with oppositely reciprocating brush heads
US6821119Jul 12, 2002Nov 23, 2004Water Pik, Inc.Dual motor oral hygiene device
US6928685Jul 22, 2004Aug 16, 2005The Procter & Gamble CompanyComplex motion toothbrush
US7040520Sep 12, 2002May 9, 2006Illinois Tool Works Inc.Fan motor suspension mount for a combustion-powered tool
US7118018Mar 15, 2004Oct 10, 2006Illinois Tool Works Inc.Fan motor suspension mount for a combustion-powered tool
US7311108Sep 13, 2005Dec 25, 2007The William Getgey Company, Inc.Motorized flosser and method of use
US7448107May 9, 2006Nov 11, 2008The Gillette CompanyBrush head for toothbrush
US7568602Sep 1, 2006Aug 4, 2009Illinois Tool Works Inc.Fan motor suspension mount for a combustion-powered tool
US7832042Nov 4, 2008Nov 16, 2010The Gillette CompanyBrush head for toothbrush
US8220097Jul 17, 2012Braun GmbhBrush head for toothbrush
US8943634May 2, 2012Feb 3, 2015Water Pik, Inc.Mechanically-driven, sonic toothbrush system
US8967163 *May 16, 2013Mar 3, 2015JetpikTeeth cleaning device
US9144477Dec 23, 2014Sep 29, 2015Water Pik, Inc.Mechanically-driven, sonic toothbrush system
US20030064348 *Sep 9, 2002Apr 3, 2003Gary SokolDrive mechanism for interproximal flossing device
US20030126700 *Jan 4, 2002Jul 10, 2003Johnny JengToothbrush with oppositely reciprocating brush heads
US20030182747 *Jun 6, 2003Oct 2, 2003The Gillette CompanyBrush head for toothbrush
US20040050901 *Sep 12, 2002Mar 18, 2004Turk Robert L.Fan motor suspension mount for a combustion-powered tool
US20040088806 *Oct 30, 2003May 13, 2004The Gillette CompanyBrush head for toothbrush
US20040173657 *Mar 15, 2004Sep 9, 2004Turk Robert L.Fan motor suspension mount for a combustion-powered tool
US20040202981 *Dec 31, 2003Oct 14, 2004Luettgen Harold A.Whitening tip for dental flossing device
US20050008986 *May 10, 2004Jan 13, 2005Gary SokolMulti-directional motion flosser
US20050076933 *Oct 9, 2003Apr 14, 2005Getgey William F.Motorized flosser and associated method of use
US20050155613 *Dec 21, 2004Jul 21, 2005Hee-Young LeeSurgical method for mandibular angle fracture operation and devices therefor
US20050266376 *Aug 11, 2005Dec 1, 2005Gary SokolDrive mechanism for interproximal flossing device
US20060054180 *Sep 13, 2005Mar 16, 2006Getgey William FMotorized flosser and method of use
US20060289596 *Sep 1, 2006Dec 28, 2006Turk Robert LFan motor suspension mount for a combustion-powered tool
US20070006403 *May 9, 2006Jan 11, 2007Depuydt Joseph ABrush head for toothbrush
US20080092917 *Dec 20, 2007Apr 24, 2008The William Getgey Company, Inc.Motorized flosser and method of use
US20090056043 *Oct 13, 2005Mar 5, 2009Ichiro SugimotoElectric toothbrush
US20090106923 *Nov 4, 2008Apr 30, 2009The Gillette CompanyBrush head for toothbrush
US20110010882 *Sep 24, 2010Jan 20, 2011Depuydt Joseph ABrush head for toothbrush
US20130340185 *Mar 9, 2011Dec 26, 2013Colgate-Palmolive CompanyInterdental cleaning device
US20140373866 *May 16, 2013Dec 25, 2014Kun HuTeeth Cleaning Device
USD463627Dec 21, 1999Sep 24, 2002Water Pik, Inc.Single rail flosser tip cartridge
USD484311Jan 12, 2001Dec 30, 2003Water Pik, Inc.Disposable toothbrush
USD487349Feb 1, 2002Mar 9, 2004Water Pik, Inc.Dental device
EP1398118A1 *Sep 9, 2003Mar 17, 2004Illinois Tool Works, Inc.Fan motor suspension mount for a combustion-powered tool
WO1999018883A1 *Oct 8, 1998Apr 22, 1999Robinson Dane QDental flossing device
WO2000074521A1Jun 7, 2000Dec 14, 2000Charles ChangCosmetic jar and applicator
Classifications
U.S. Classification132/322, 433/143, 433/118, 132/329
International ClassificationA61C15/04, A61C15/00
Cooperative ClassificationA61C15/00, A61C15/047
European ClassificationA61C15/00, A61C15/04E1
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Dec 12, 1994ASAssignment
Owner name: BRAUN AKTIENGESELLSCHAFT, GERMANY
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:BOLAND, BERNARD;HACZEK, WERNER;REEL/FRAME:007299/0537
Effective date: 19941129
Aug 17, 2000ASAssignment
Owner name: BRAUN GMBH, GERMANY
Free format text: CHANGE OF NAME;ASSIGNOR:BRAUN AKTIENGESELLSCHAFT;REEL/FRAME:011035/0269
Effective date: 19991213
Jul 19, 2001FPAYFee payment
Year of fee payment: 4
Aug 10, 2005REMIMaintenance fee reminder mailed
Jan 20, 2006LAPSLapse for failure to pay maintenance fees
Mar 21, 2006FPExpired due to failure to pay maintenance fee
Effective date: 20060120